Call for Articles
LEISA : Magazine on Low External Input & Sustainable Agriculture
Issue 22/4 December 2006:
Making the most of ecological processes
Deadline for submission of articles: 1 September 2006
Trying to develop sustainable agriculture which builds on ecological processes is an ongoing challenge. Though some of the basic ecological principles are well known (for example, nutrient cycles or nitrogen fixation), we know very little about how these processes work in detail and about how the different ecological processes interact with each other. Most of the knowledge about ecological agriculture therefore builds on practical experiences and trial and error – or success. Examples where farmers are managing ecological processes include intercropping, plant density and arrangement, use of shade, and seed treatment. The system of rice intensification (SRI) is one example of an integrated ecological approach that has been very successful in increasing rice yields of small scale farmers while reducing the need for commercial inputs and saving on natural resources like water (see also earlier articles on LEISA Magazine, volumes 15.3, 15.4 and 18.3). First described in the early 1990s, this approach is now spreading all over the world, mostly through inform exchanges. Farmers try it out in different contexts and with different levels of input and management. But how are these experiences developed? How have farmers and communities reacted to this rather revolutionary approach? When has it been successful and when hasn’t it? What adaptations have been made to the system? Could a similar approach be used for other crops?